Last year I started blogging through the book of Job, one chapter each week. While the basic plot is quickly told — riches to rags to riches — Job is not a short book. I am currently on chapter 31 of 42. Thankfully, over the course of these many months, the discipline of blogging has produced fruit in my life.
Just Do It
I have always dreamed of writing for a living. In a sense, as an attorney, I do write for a living. But I don’t write the stuff dreams are made of. Instead, I write emails, memoranda, and legal briefs. My legal writing pays the bills, and my clients seem to appreciate it, fortunately! Yet in my heart I long to communicate more timeless truths.
This longing has increased as I have gotten older. There are so many things I wish I could say to my younger self, especially words of encouragement in suffering. I started my adulthood as an idealist, even moving to China and working at an orphanage. Since that time – 20 years ago now — I have come to understand that suffering is a large and inescapable part of life.
The great challenge for each human being is to find meaning in their suffering. And if you believe in God, as I do, one of the most profound questions you can ask is, “Why would a good God allow suffering?” I have thought a lot about this question, and the urge to share these ideas with others is almost irresistible. Like Job’s friend Elihu, I have a bellyful of words: “I must speak, that I may find relief!” (Job 32:20).
Yet life is full of many tasks, and writing requires time. My commitment to blog through the book of Job forces me to sit my bottom in the chair and type, at least once each week. Instead of just thinking about writing, or hoping to be a writer someday, I am taking small steps to just do it.
The Whole Truth
Most people have some idea that the book of Job is about suffering. They may know that Job came under attack from Satan, and that after some time, God restored Job’s health and fortunes. This is the version of Job you might find in a children’s story bible, or in Sunday school.
So many times, we try to comfort ourselves with Sunday-school stories. And these are good as far as they go — far be it from me to denigrate Sunday school! But God in His wisdom has given us the whole Bible, the whole book of Job, for our study, and meditation, and enlightenment. Job the Sunday-school story is only 3 chapters, a picture frame. The great work of art consists in the other 39 chapters — the poetic dialogue between Job, his four friends, and God.
Of course, the problem is bigger than Sunday school. We live in the age of Instagram and Twitter, perfect platforms for the quick inspirational quote. “I know that my Redeemer lives!” (Job 19:25a). But these should only whet our appetites for the full text. You can eat a bag of croutons and call it salad, but your body knows the difference.
If I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God (and I do), I need to live like it. My soul needs me to tuck into the steak and potatoes of the Scriptures. Vague Christian affirmations devoid of context will not strengthen me for the next trial. And the next trial is coming.
My goal in blogging through the book of Job is to consider the text carefully, first on its own terms, and then in light of what I know from other passages of Scripture. I do my best to treat the text respectfully, for this is sacred ground. I read through several different translations and commentaries, I pray, and then I write. I am hoping to encourage others to taste the full banquet of God’s word.
Journey of Faith
At the beginning of this journey, I was encouraged by a couple friends from another state, who were reading Job as part of a Bible study. They gave me positive feedback and ideas for new posts. But overall, the trip has been a little lonely. Most weeks, my Job posts only get a handful of hits.
And I understand. Sometimes Job and his friends say strange and uncomfortable things. Certainly many passages – beginning with Job’s death-wish in chapter 3 – are quite depressing. And such passages go on, and on, and on. Yet in the darkest chapters of Job, and the darkest chapters of my life, God is faithful. He continues to unfold his words to me, bringing light (Psalm 119:130).
When I have been tempted to focus on “likes” or “hits,” I remember that God requires faithfulness in little things (Luke 16:10). God delights in using the weak and foolish for his glory (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). And I remember that writing is not about me, but about pointing readers to the gospel. I can’t predict the path of the wind, or how the Holy Spirit might blow through my humble blog (John 3:8).
Strangely, as I have continued to place bottom in chair, week after week, God has brought new writing opportunities into my life – including opportunities for paid articles. In addition, I am finding that the writing process comes easier to me, that I am seeing opportunities for improvement, that I am developing my own unique voice.
I began my odyssey through Job as a step of faith: faith in the fruitfulness of God’s word, faith in the heart-prompts of the Holy Spirit. I have marinated in the book’s beautiful poetry, marveled at Job’s boldness, recoiled at the harshness of Job’s so-called friends. Even the passages of lamentation have pulled my heart closer to the gospel.
I look forward to completing my Job assignment faithfully, Lord willing. Although my readers are few, it is good for me to “cast my bread upon the waters,” to share from the stores God has opened for me (Ecclesiastes 11:1). And if you also feel that inner prompting, don’t ignore it! Just pick a book of the Bible, place bottom in chair, and start your own blogging journey.
Editors Note: If you enjoyed this article consider checking out Laura’s series on Job here.